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Floodplain Law Passed, And May Again

Flooding at the Sanatoga Creek Bridge on East High Street during September 2011

SANATOGA PA – A floodplain management ordinance demanded by state and federal agencies that specifies how local development will be handled in areas prone to flooding was accepted Thursday (Feb. 18, 2016) by the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners, following a public hearing at which no one offered comments.

However, it’s probably not the last time township residents are likely to hear about the law, Manager Ed Wagner said.

The language of the ordinance, revised and polished over many months by the Sanatoga engineering firm of Bursich Associates, was required to be adopted by March 2. While the township has now successfully filled that mandate, the wording has yet to be reviewed and accepted by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Wagner said.

When both finally hand down potential revisions or changes, he explained, it seems certain the township will again need to hold another public hearing … to effectively approve the approval. “Sometimes that’s how bureaucracy works,” the manager, shaking his head, said before the hearing.

Without adoption of the updated law by the deadline, Solicitor Charles Garner said, owners of properties within the floodplain could have risked losing existing flood insurance or may have found it difficult to obtain insurance later.

The good news, Garner reported, is there have been relatively few problems with local floodplain areas in recent years, and that the law contains “very little change” in updates from earlier versions. It also “incorporates the latest floodplain maps,” he noted.

The maps are printed on oversized 36-inch-by-24-inch panels in a set consisting of several sheets showing multiple flood zones, according to Wagner. They are available for public inspection at the municipal building, 2199 Buchert Rd., during regular weekday operating hours.

On some maps, Wagner told the township Planning Commission during its meeting last Tuesday (Feb. 16) the size of floodplain areas has been reduced. That’s helpful for property owners, he said. The planners approved the ordinance in advance of the commissioners; Montgomery County conducted its required review last December, and also signed off on the measure.

Related (to the Lower Pottsgrove Board of Commissioners’ Feb. 18 meeting):

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